*In New York to discuss his latest film, “A United Kingdom,” the affable David Oyelowo was very forthcoming with his thoughts on universal racism although in his movie love overcomes hate.
It was ironic that the Peninsula Hotel where the interviews took place, is right across the street from Donald Trump’s New York home and there were loud protests throughout the day.
Directed by Amma Asante, “A United Kingdom” is the true story of the forbidden love of King Seretse Khama of Botswana (David Oyelowo) and Ruth Williams (Rosamund Pike), a white woman from London, which caused an international uproar when they decided to marry in the late 1940s during Apartheid ridden South Africa. It was a decision that affected the course of African history.
EURweb: A line in the film alluded to the fact that a black woman could never be queen of England. Why are blacks always so quick to accept?
DAVID OYELOWO: It’s a good question. I think that colonialism and any empire fights very hard to remain in a state of survival. And so Africa and African nations, Botswana in particular, they were operating in a place where they want to be part of the world. For Botswana it’s ‘okay, we believe in our leader, we can tell he loves us, and so let’s try this.’
EURweb: Need I mention the black actress Meghan Markle who is dating the Prince?
DO: It’ll be interesting to see what happens with that situation [Laughs]. But the interesting thing I find with that situation is the veiled racism within how it was reported, the newspapers and headlines are not dissimilar to what we saw seventy years ago with Ruth and Seretse.
EURweb: In the film black men and white women are socializing in the 1940s and back here blacks couldn’t even use the same rest rooms. Was the UK more liberal?
DO: I don’t think it was more liberal. I think racism is just more insidious, more undercover. I would rather know where I stand than you seem to be nice to me and then I get home and I’m like, “why am I bleeding? Oh, you stabbed me in the back earlier on today.” I would rather know where I stand. And I have found racism in the UK to be more because it’s shrouded in the class system. It’s harder to identify and easier to deny. And that’s more dangerous in my opinion.
There’s a reason why a bunch of people were shocked by Brexit in the same way that there are people all over America who were shocked by some of our political circumstances now. As a black person, you talk about racism and people are like, ‘What are you talking about? We’re multi-cultural, beautiful.’ And I’m like, “Fool, I am telling you I am suffering and you’re telling me that this doesn’t exist?’ So, no. Because slavery did not happen on British shores does not denote that British hands are not covered in blood. And that’s just the truth.
EURweb: Did you see ‘Loving’ and what did you think?
DO: Yes. Joel Edgerton is a very good friend of mine. I think that he and Ruth‘s [Negga] performance is wonderful in the film and another important story that I’m sure a lot of people don’t know anything about. These films, are important in terms of having in inroads into that which we may not know and that which could and should inform how we treat each other. And unfortunately, I think the education system is failing us in terms of how few of those kinds of stories we know.
Yes, America is a great nation. Yes, the United Kingdom is a great nation. But, if you don’t see the darkness the light is not going to be as prominent. We have to look at the dark corners of our history in order to learn from them. If the history books are always shying away from the things we got wrong, I don’t think that growth is going to be what we have going forward.
“A United Kingdom” opens Friday.
Syndicated Entertainment journalist Marie Moore reports on film and TV from her New York City base. Contact her at [email protected]
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